For the modern traveler: American Express Green Card review
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Oct. 25, 2019.
The American Express® Green Card is newly refreshed and now provides a compelling offering in the mid-tier travel category. With 3x earning on broader travel, restaurants and transit as well as annual statement credits for CLEAR and LoungeBuddy that more than cover its annual fee, the Green from Amex is a card that modern travelers should consider. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
Until I wrote this review, I’d never seriously considered the Green from Amex. But as I learned about the refreshed card, I realized it’s a surprisingly strong offering for anyone that prioritizes travel, dines out frequently and incurs transit costs. So, if you’ve considered the American Express Green Card in the past, now’s a good time to give it a second look.
In September, Amex announced that the revamped card would be made from 70% reclaimed plastic collected from beaches and coastal communities. But there’s actually more to this card than its composition, including 3x bonus points on travel, restaurants and transit, as well as statement credits that will be useful to travelers. Let’s take a closer look at this newly refreshed card.
The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Who is this card for?
The earning rates and benefits of the American Express Green Card will be most attractive to young professionals and millennials (or millennials at heart) who travel for work, pleasure or both. The card earns 3x Membership Rewards points on travel, restaurants and transit, so you’ll want to consider this card if a large chunk of your budget goes toward these categories.
The Amex Green also offers annual up to $100 CLEAR and up to $100 LoungeBuddy statement credits that can more than offset the $150 annual fee (see rates and fees) while making your time in the airport more efficient and relaxing. If you can utilize these statement credits, the card can easily be a worthwhile addition to your purse or wallet.
Further reading: Should you get TSA PreCheck or CLEAR — or both?
Welcome bonus: As much as $700 in value
The Amex Green is currently offering new cardmembers a welcome bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first three months. Based on TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, the welcome bonus points are worth about $600. There are also targeted and other welcome offers available for this card, so make sure to look at all your options.
Further reading: Choosing the best American Express card for you
Main benefits and perks
Before its recent refresh, there weren’t many reasons to add the American Express Green to your wallet. But now, solid earnings and benefits make the Amex Green a serious competitor if you’re looking for a mid-tier travel rewards card. So, let’s look at its other benefits and perks.
$100 CLEAR annual statement credit
One benefit of the Amex Green card that I haven’t seen on other cards is a $100 CLEAR statement credit. With CLEAR, your eyes and fingertips can help you get through security faster at select airports and stadiums nationwide. When you pay for your CLEAR membership with the Green from Amex you’ll receive up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits.
The normal rate for CLEAR membership is $179 per year, so the credit won’t cover the full annual cost. However, TPG readers can use the promo code TPG149 to get a discounted membership of $149 for the first year, or the promo code TPG2M to get a two month free trial membership. Special pricing is also available for United MileagePlus members, Delta SkyMiles members and basic cardholders of select Delta cobranded cards. So you may be able to get CLEAR for very little out of pocket after the American Express Green Card’s statement credit.
Further reading: CLEAR expedited airport security program — Is it worthwhile?
$100 LoungeBuddy annual statement credit
Although many cards offer Priority Pass Select lounge memberships, the Green from Amex takes a different approach by providing an annual LoungeBuddy statement credit. In particular, you’ll get up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year when you use the American Express Green Card to purchase lounge access directly from LoungeBuddy through either its website or or app.
LoungeBuddy allows you to purchase one-time lounge passes on demand, so you can get lounge access when you need it most. Although the cost to access each lounge through LoungeBuddy varies, prices start at $25 per visit, so you can get up to four visits per year using your $100 statement credit.
Further reading: Best cards for airport lounge access
Travel and shopping protections
The American Express Green Card offers extended warranty protection, purchase protection and return protection when you purchase eligible items with your card. These protections can save you serious money if something goes wrong with a recent purchase.
You’ll also be protected when you’re on the road. The Green from Amex offers a baggage insurance plan and secondary car rental loss and damage insurance, with the option to upgrade to primary coverage through Amex’s Premium Car Rental Protection.
For travel purchases made on or after Jan. 1, 2020 with the American Express Green Card, you’ll get trip delay insurance that will cover round-trip flights. You’ll be covered if you pay for the entire ticket with your card, use your card to pay the taxes and fees on an award tickets or use Pay With Points. Plus, the Green from Amex doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees.
How to earn points
The Amex Green Card earns 3 Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent on dining, travel and transit. Based on TPG’s valuation of Amex Membership Rewards points at 2 cent each, you’ll get an approximate 6% return on spending in these categories.
It’s important to note that these categories are broad. For example, “travel” includes airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals, tour operators, travel agencies, campsites and more, while “transit” includes ride hailing, buses, taxis, metros, subways, tolls and more. Depending on your lifestyle, much of your spending may fall within these 3x categories.
Further reading: The ultimate guide to Amex Membership Rewards
How to redeem points
The Membership Rewards points you earn with the American Express Green Card can be transferred to 22 travel partners: 19 airlines and three hotels. TPG’s valuation of Amex Membership Rewards at 2 cents each is based on the potential value you can get when you transfer your points to these partners and redeem for award flights or award nights. There are some excellent sweet spots, including cheap American Airlines awards through Etihad Guest and centrally-located hotel stays or family vacation rentals with Choice Hotels points. Check out the following guides for ideas on how to maximize your points:
- Best ways to redeem Amex Points on Oneworld airlines
- Best ways to redeem Amex Points on SkyTeam airlines
- Best ways to redeem Amex Points on Star Alliance airlines
- How to redeem Amex Membership Rewards Points for hotels
Although you’ll generally get the most value from Amex points by transferring them to a hotel or airline partner, this isn’t your only redemption option. You can also use points to book travel through Amex Travel, buy gift cards, cover charges on your billing statement, shop at Amazon or ride with Uber. However, most of these options only get a value of 0.5 to 0.7 cents per point, and as this is much lower than TPG’s valuation of 2 cents per point, you’ll generally want to avoid these options.
Further reading: Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value
How does the Green from Amex compare?
The American Express Green card is a competitive mid-tier card now that it features strong earning rates and useful benefits. If you’re looking for a starter travel card with a modest annual fee, your best choices will likely be the Green from Amex, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Citi Premier® Card. Let’s compare these three cards head to head.
|American Express Green||Chase Sapphire Preferred||Citi Premier|
|Welcome bonus||30,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new card in your first three months
TPG value: $600
|Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
TPG value: $1,200
80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
TPG value: $1,360
|Annual fee||$150 (see rates and fees)||$95||$95|
|Bonus earning rates (return based on TPG’s valuations)||3x on travel, transit and dining (6%)||2x on travel and 3x on dining (4%)||3x ThankYou points per dollar on air travel, hotels, gas, restaurants and at supermarkets (5.1%)|
|Benefits||up to $100 annual CLEAR credit
up to $100 annual LoungeBuddy credit
No foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees)
|No foreign transaction fees||No foreign transaction fees|
|Shopping protections||Extended warranty protection, purchase protection, return protection||Extended warranty protection, purchase protection||Extended warranty protection, purchase protection|
|Travel protections||Baggage insurance, secondary car rental coverage
Trip delay coverage starting Jan. 1, 2020, on round-trip flights
|Trip delay coverage, baggage delay coverage, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary car rental coverage, lost luggage insurance, travel accident insurance||None|
As you can see, the Green from Amex has the highest annual fee of the three cards, but it’s also the only card of the three to offer annual statement credits — and these statement credits can more than offset the annual fee. The American Express Green Card also has the best earning rates for travel and restaurants, and is the only card of the three to offer return protection.
There are a few aspects that may shift you toward the Sapphire Preferred or the Citi Premier though. Both cards offer higher welcome bonuses, which can certainly be a consideration when applying for a new card — especially since American Express has a once-in-a-lifetime bonus rule. And, if you spend a lot on gas and entertainment, you may want to go with the Citi Premier since it also offers bonus earning in these categories. Likewise, if you want travel protections including baggage delay protection and trip cancellation/interruption insurance, the Sapphire Preferred may be a better choice, since Citi ended most of those benefits on Sept. 22, 2019.
Further reading: The best starter travel credit cards
The American Express Green Card is more competitive after its recent refresh. The card now offers 3x earning on travel, dining and transit as well as up to $200 in statement credits annually for CLEAR and LoungeBuddy. These statement credits can more than offset the $150 annual fee, making this card a compelling option for young professionals and others who allocate much of their budget toward travel, dining and commuting. If you’ll use the annual credits, the Green from Amex is a card to seriously consider adding to your purse or wallet.
For rates and fees of the Green from Amex card, please click here.
Featured image by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.
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